The Better UTAH Beat airs Tuesday afternoons on KVNU’s For the People. Podcasts of previous episodes are available here.
Today’s Better UTAH Beat is not about a rancher in Nevada who has been ripping off taxpayers to the tune of one million dollars over the last two decades.
It isn’t about his assemblage of a ragtag militia who floated the idea of using women as human shields.
It isn’t about a group of people whose world views have isolated them from their fellow Americans to such an extent they are willing to attack other Americans.
Today’s Better UTAH Beat, instead, is about how Utahns–some of them sensibly–are reacting to the recent standoff in Nevada.
Governor Herbert, for example, actually deserves praise for his response. In an interview with Salt Lake Tribune reporter Matt Canham, Herbert was adamant that Utahns stand for common sense approaches to solving our problems.
“I told them what happens in Nevada with the BLM should stay in Nevada,” Herbert said. “We don’t need the problem exported to Utah, and that’s just a common-sense position.”
We could not agree more.
The governor continued: “Any time we have people who pledge allegiance to the flag — Americans looking across the way to other Americans that are trying to do their duty, and they both have weapons and it’s a tinderbox that could flash at any moment, that’s an unfortunate situation.”
You won’t often hear us say this, but Herbert gets this one right. BLM agents–and let’s be clear that they are not FBI or CIA agents–are our American neighbors, doing their jobs. Pointing rifles at them as they attempt to do their duty isn’t rebellion against the government, it is threatening their fellow citizens.
And then there are our own legislators–primary among them, Rep. Ken Ivory and Speaker Lockhart. Though we certainly disagree with their policy objective of taking control of federal lands–we respect their process of achieving their aims.
Ivory and Lockhart recently hosted a gathering of Western lawmakers to discuss their efforts to take on the costly task of managing federal lands with state dollars. Ivory, Lockhart and their colleagues are at least using democratic means to achieve their ends–even though those ends are likely fiscally irresponsible. But in doing so, our leaders need to make every effort to distance themselves from the discontent that often manifests itself in response to land issues.
For example, on Saturday a group of activists gathered at the state capitol to commemorate the beginning of the American Revolution. These activists weren’t celebrating the signing of the Declaration of Independence; they weren’t celebrating the actual independence of America. Rather, they were celebrating the day the first shots were fired — thus beginning the Revolutionary War. This particular day is known as Patriots’ Day.
As you can well imagine, most of the 120 supporters were there to speak in favor of the 2nd Amendment. They also carried signs that claimed Nevada Sen. Harry Reid was a domestic terrorist and that President Obama deserved impeachment. In interviews with the Tribune, participants were quick to point to what happened in Nevada as an example of a tyrannical government. They failed to note how anarchy was an appropriate response.
It is also worth noting how quickly an issue about land management is subsumed under a narrative of gun rights and government tyranny. Legislators should tread carefully in their relationship to these various issues.
The rule of law matters. Governor Herbert knows that. Even members of our legislature, despite their pushes for bad policy, understand that. They should take the next step of affirming the democratic process by disavowing extra legal efforts like those that occurred in Nevada.
Today’s beat isn’t about a rancher in Nevada, but it is about how we, as Utahns, choose to respond.